Chilling CCTV footage reveals how four men abducted student before raping and crushing her head with a rock
21-year-old Hannah Cornelius was abducted in her own car in May 2017, raped, and then murdered by having her head bashed in with a rock
CCTV footage made public recently reveals the horrifying moments a South African student was kidnapped by four men in her own car, following which she was viciously raped and then killed by having her head bashed in with a rock. The 21-year-old victim, Hannah Cornelius, was carjacked by four men as she was dropping off a friend, 22-year-old Cheslin Marsh, at his home in Stellenbosch, West of Cape Town, in May 2017.
The video shows Cornelius is in her grandmother's blue city golf, driving up to Marsh's block of flats in Bird Street at around 3:23 am after the pair spent a night out together. After she parks outside, four men can be seen at the periphery of the footage checking the car out.
It appears as though they're interrupted by other passing vehicles, as well as a woman probably getting dropped off after her work shift. They initially walk past the car, but at around 3:32 am, two men can be seen approaching the car, and the other two soon join their friends.
A white vehicle blocks the view on the CCTV, but all four men get in. According to the Daily Mail, one of the accused pointed a screwdriver to Cornelius's chest through the open car window and when Marsh grabbed his hand, another pointed a knife at him and threatened to kill him. Marsh was then robbed of all of his valuables and locked in the boot of the car while Cornelius was forced to the back seat as the four men drove the pair to a vineyard outside Stellenbosch.
Three of the group then dragged the 21-year-old student to some bushes and raped her, before stabbing her through the neck and crushing her skull with a rock.
Then, Marsh was dragged out of the boot, made to lay his head on a rock. The four then proceeded to crush his skull with bricks until they thought he was dead. However, despite suffering from severe head injuries and a broken arm, the 22-year-old would recover consciousness the next day and manage to make his way to a nearby home to raise an alarm about Cornelius.
Recounting the incident, he said, "I lay down on the ground as they told me and put my head on a rock. I closed my eyes and I prayed. The two men were standing over me with bricks in their hands." He continued, "'I lost consciousness and when I woke I was in horrible pain, everywhere pain. When I last heard Hannah talking her voice was very soft and I could tell she was scared."
The men, identified as 27-year-old Geraldo Parsons, 28-year-old Van Nieberk, 29-year-old Nashville Julius, and 33-year-old Vernon Witbooi, were allegedly high on drugs at the time. After raping and killing Cornelius, they took the stolen car and engaged in a robbery spree where they robbed at least three women.
The stolen car was eventually spotted and the four were apprehended after a high-speed chase and charged with a string of offenses, including robbery, kidnapping, rape, and robbery.
Marsh was taken to the Kraaifontein Day Hospital and treated for head wounds and a broken arm. After weeks in Tygerberg and Paarl Hospitals, he was eventually declared permanently deaf in his left ear.
Testifying at their hearing at the Western Cape High Court, pathologist Dr. Deidre Abrahams detailed just how brutally violent the four had been with Cornelius. "The skull is made of very strong bones," she said. "It is not easy for a skull to break or crack unless a lot of power is used to break the skull," adding how the sexual assault would have been a "very painful experience".
On Wednesday‚ crime scene experts testified how they collected DNA and fingerprint evidence from Cornelius’s blue VW Citi Golf in which she and Marsh were hijacked.
Captain Nomfundo Ngwenya‚ a fingerprint expert‚ told the high court in Cape Town that she matched palm print evidence from the vehicle’s boot to the second suspect in the case‚ Geraldo Parsons. She could not match other finger and palm prints on the vehicle to the three other suspects‚ Vernon Witbooi‚ Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius.
Watch the CCTV footage of her kidnapping here: